Sheehan & Associates, P.L.C.

Beloved Michigan bookstore closing after nearly 40 years

Independent booksellers have had a tough time in recent years. Between the growth of bookstore chains and the increasingly popularity of e-books, many small stores are struggling and failing to stay in business. That's the case for a Michigan bookstore called Pooh's Corner. The Grand Rapids children's bookstore, named for the place made famous in the Winnie the Pooh stories, is closing after 38 years. The beloved Breton Village mainstay, which its website says is the "largest independent children's bookstore in West Michigan," will close on May 23.

As one of the store's owners noted, children's books have been less impacted by the e-book revolution than adult books, and the majority are purchased as gifts. However, with libraries closing and teachers under pressure to stick to reading material that is part of the school curriculum, the only books that many children read are the ones turned into movies, like the "Harry Potter" and "Hunger Games" series.

Pooh's Corner, which has a small, mostly part-time, staff of six has provided a place for children to listen to books read aloud with its Story Time. The owners pride themselves on giving each child personal attention and recommending books that will suit them. As one of the owners said, "I don't believe there's such a thing as a child that doesn't like to read. They just haven't found the right book yet."

Many business owners in Michigan and around the country are forced to consider their options, including dissolution, in consultation with their legal and financial advisors when their businesses are not making enough money to survive. The two owners say they looked at multiple options for trying to keep their business afloat. However, as one of them put it, "If we wanted to re-invest, re-position it to better fit the changing retail climate, we had to think about what it would take. . . . It was better to gracefully quit the business."

While the store may not have enough business to stay afloat, their customer base is a loyal one. The owners say that many people have stopped in and "just started to cry." They have also taken to the store's Facebook page to express their love for the store and their sadness at seeing it close. One quote by Pooh's creator A.A. Milne seems particularly appropriate: "How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard."

Source: Grand Rapids Business Journal, "Bookseller ends 38-year story" Mike Nichols, Mar. 28, 2014

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